The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today

Everyone wants to be happy, to be appreciated, to be healthy, to have a purpose, to be joyful, to love and to be loved. In short, we want all the “good things”.

What do businesspeople want out of life in their Sales role?

Of course, we also want all that is good. In Sales, that list looks something like this:

  • To shorten the sales cycle
  • To increase the average revenue per order
  • To increase the win/loss percentage (or better yet, to never lose a deal)
  • To close more deals
  • To be adored by prospects and customers
  • To be respected and feared by our competitors.

If you’re in Sales, it’s easy to come up with a list of things you want. These things are the basis for how you’ll be judged by your company. The degree to which you’re successful determines how satisfied and happy your company will be with your achievements and how you’ll feel personally.

When you or your team lose a deal, when a deal takes longer than expected, when you or your team miss a forecast, you feel badly because you truly desired a different outcome. It makes you feel like you’re further away from accomplishing the goals. But that’s the negative. If you can achieve these “good things” you’ll be your happiest in the profession you’ve chosen, Sales.

The most important question to ask yourself today is not “what do you want,” but “what pain do you want?”

In his Huffpost article of the same title, The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today, Self-development guru and author Mark Manson writes, “What’s more interesting to me [than what do you want in life] is what pain do you want? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives end up.” He is referring to what people want from life, not from selling. But his viewpoint is very relevant.

He continues, “What we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing to sustain.” His point is that we can desire all we want but we’ll never get it if we aren’t capable of suffering for it—if we don’t expect, welcome, and overcome the pain that comes with the task.  Nothing comes easily. Success comes with dedication, perseverance, sweat, and yes, often tears.

Let’s start with the first of the “good things” on our list. We say we want shorter sales cycles, but what pain are we as business owners, sales managers and sellers, willing to endure to bring that to fruition? My experience is that sales organizations have a very low tolerance for pain.

Everybody says they want to shorten the sales cycle, but few are willing to endure the inevitable pain long enough to make it happen. Do you want to shorten your sales cycle? Then let me ask you a few questions:

  • What are the top 3 things you’ll need to do to make that happen?
  • What are the top 5 or 10 things?
  • Indeed, how many things are required if you are to shorten the sales cycle?
  • Do you have a list at all?
  • Do you have a plan for accomplishing the tasks on the list?

Now, ask yourself those questions for each item on the “good things” list. Are you beginning to see the boldness of your desires and the magnitude of the commitment that is needed to make it happen?

There’s no way around it, if you want the good things, you have to also want and—truly, with all your might—accept, the struggle involved. If you find yourself chasing the “good things” quarter after quarter yet somehow you just don’t seem to get any closer, then maybe it’s time to question how genuinely willing you are to accept the pain that goes along with them.